Monday, September 28, 2015

The Good Shepherd and World Communion Sunday

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Good Shepherd and World Communion Sunday, scheduled for this Sunday, October 4, 2015.

This lesson comes from The Complete Guide to Godly Play, 20 Presentations for Spring, by Jerome Berryman.

How wonderful for our children, who will be celebrating World Communion Sunday in worship, to have a chance to explore this idea of Christ as Shepherd of our world during Sunday school.

It's a great time to remember the parable of the shepherd and apply this to World Communion Sunday, as well as a time to think deeper about communion-what it is and what it means. It's a pretty short lesson, so that leaves plenty of time to discuss these big ideas. Children may want to talk about what communion is like for them. At our church some families include children in participating and others prefer that their children wait until they are baptized. It's good for children to remember that whether or not we join in on the eating and drinking, we can be with God in our prayer during the communion time. God loves and wants to commune with everyone, no matter what.

Ideas for Art Response

1. Make a World Communion Circle for your class. Each child could make their own contribution- a clothespin person or the world out of paper or felt and put it all together.

2. Children could make their own elements from the story:  Jesus as Shepherd, the sheep, the fence, the table, the chalice or plate.

 3. Or children could focus on the World part of World Communion Sunday...
 Use Model Magic to make it in 3D.
 The children might enjoy a field trip to look at our world in tiles from a few years back.
4. You could also celebrate communion on your own in your classroom with juice and crackers. Bring me clean receipts and I'm happy to reimburse you!
Love, Becky

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Ark and the Tent

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to the Ark and the Tent, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, September 27, based on Exodus 25-31, 35-40. You can find the script on p.81-86 in the orange book (The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Vol 2, 14 Presentations for Fall, by Jerome W. Berryman).

Children always get so excited about this story. They love the little pieces belonging to the tent, I think partly because each piece comes with a tradition. We all know how kids LOVE traditions--knowing the proper way to do things and the reasons behind why we do them. Bringing a sacrifice for the altar, washing at the laver before entering the tent, burning incense, placing 12 pieces of bread on the table, lighting the all has meaning, centered upon being ready to meet God.

There are different approaches to this lesson that teachers can take. Of course we can all go through a study of each of the steps of getting ready and the tools mentioned above to help them get ready.  Many churches still use several of these today. Are there any that we use? Are there new ones not included with the tent?

We can also think about how we get ready to do different things in our lives--to go places that are important to us, for example.  How do we get ready to hear our Godly Play stories? Why is that important? How do we get ready to be with God? What do we do? How exactly do the routines we do help us get ready? Can we practice getting ready to be with God when we're at home too? How would we do that?

One thing that the Godly Play script doesn't highlight which you may want to include is the idea that all the people of God were invited to give something of their own to creating the tent of meeting--not just jewelry or fabric or wood, but their own craftsmanship. It was created by the people of God, for God.

Ideas for Art Response Time

This story is practically BURSTING with ideas for little hands--and big ones too!

I can easily see the activity time for this story beginning this Sunday, but continuing at least one other Sunday. Soon we'll do the Ark and the Temple, so the work could easily continue with that story too.

Here are some that I came up with to add to your own. (And please, do feel free to write a comment to share your own ideas!)

Children might like to make their own collection of getting ready pieces like a menorah, an incense holder, a laver, an ark. They could make tiny pieces with clay or boxes or pieces of wood or whatever materials we have.
Or they could spend more time on making individual pieces. The menorahs above are made from a big clay "worm" in which popsickle sticks (which have been colored with crayons) are inserted. Sequins and beads have also been pressed into the clay.
Here are some websites with more great ideas and directions:
How to make a potato menorah:
How to make a menorah from clay:

Of course our children will come up with more creative ideas than we can!

Some things to ask them:
How could we make a laver?

What do we have in our classroom which might make a good altar?
A table for the 12 slices of bread?
An ark of the covenant? How about decorating a box with gold wrapping paper for the ark?
What about the poles that carry it?
 (Wouldn't it be fun to light some incense and see what it smells like?)

 If we're going to make all those pieces, why not make a tent of meeting in which to put them?
A table turned on its side could give us the framework.

There are a few tablecloths folded up in the art supply room to serve as the tent fabric.

What if we brought blankets from home? We could even have a four layer tent, much like the tent is described in the Bible.
Once the tent is made, we could put all the pieces we created inside it. How would we separate the Holy of Holies?
Or we could make a small tabernacle out of cardboard and fabric.

There's so much to think about. I can't wait to see what your classes create! If you take photos, please share them with me. I'd love to add them to the parent newsletter!

Have fun, y'all!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Ten Best Ways

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Ten Best Ways, the Godly Play story scheduled at our church for this coming Sunday, Sept. 20. You can find the story in Exodus 20:1-17, Deuteronomy 5:1-21. The Godly Play script can be found in the 14 Presentations for Fall book (the orange one), p73-80.

I love that Godly Play refers to the Ten Commandments as The Ten Best Ways and places them in a heart shaped box. This helps us remember that our God is not a supreme dictator who exists just for the chance to squash us when we don't adhere to his rules, but is instead a God who loves us enough to want to give us boundaries, so that we can fully enjoy the life God meant for us.

In preparation for teaching the lesson, it's good to look back at the session that precedes it: the Exodus. God has led his people out of slavery, away from Pharaoh and the soldiers chasing after them, through the sea, into freedom. Now they can live where they want, do what they want, be who they want. As the story script says, "Now that the people are free...where will they go now? What is the best way?"

Thank goodness (and thank God!) that God provided divine guidance, motivated completely by love.

What to focus on? Here are some general ideas :
1. The younger classes (first grade and younger) might choose to keep things simple by focusing on the first heart in the box: Love God, Love People, God Loves You. Or, depending on the children, you could go deeper and study all the commandments. You probably have an idea of what the children can handle best.

2. Study each of the commandments by reproducing them in some way.

3. Explore the idea of Moses being the only one with the courage to climb up into the fire and smoke to meet God. Children will find it interesting that God wanted to protect Moses from his powerful presence, so God put him in a crevice in the rock and put his hand over him until he had passed by, allowing Moses to see his back. I love the line, "When we see God's back, we can follow God all of our days."

4. The older children may benefit by exploring the conflict that comes when we find ourselves stuck between two commandments, like when Grandma gives you a present that you don't like and asks you what you think of it. How do we love others and still stay true to the truth?

We should also address more close to the heart conflicts, like divorce. Many of our children are experiencing divorce and will be listening especially to the Best Way of honoring marriage. We need to be sure to include in our session a focus on grace and forgiveness. Sometimes people try their very best to honor the Ten Best ways, and it just doesn't work out. God always offers love and forgiveness to all. His love never stops, no matter what.

Art Response Ideas:

* Thanks to Charlie Bryan, we still have 35 beautiful pieces of slate and granite that could be used for a Ten Best Ways project. Keep in mind that most classes except our first graders did this project last year, so you might want to do something different- or maybe not. A class could let each child paint or write one commandment on each piece for a classroom set, or each child could have his own and use sharpie markers to write all ten on one piece of stone. I'll have them on a cart in the hallway.

* Give the children big construction paper hearts divided into the sections Love God, Love People, and God Loves You. "I wonder how you could illustrate each section?"  Children could choose whether to draw or cut pictures from a magazine or paint with watercolors. Or children could work together on one huge heart of butcher paper, contributing illustrations for each section. (This idea is especially for the younger children.)

*Let each child make a set of commandments, painting the tablets with watercolors after they write their version of the Ten Best Ways. It's beautiful...see here.

*See this version done on slate.

* I wonder if we could make a Mount Sinai? (With a cleft for Moses to hide in!) Could we make Moses out of a clothespin? How would we make the Ten Best Ways?" The youngest children might need ideas from which to choose.

*Could we make a huge set of Ten Best Ways together for our classroom? As tall as a child?  Could we illustrate each commandment? Which one would you like to work on?

*I wonder what materials we might use to make individual sets of Best Way hearts, so that you can take it home with you. (You might want to see what kind of interesting materials you can find at a craft store. Save your receipts and I'll reimburse you.)

*I wonder if you can make up hand motions to illustrate each individual Best Way? Could you split them up among children and videotape each one, making a video the whole class can enjoy? (If somebody does this I'd love to share it with parents!)

*I wonder which is your favorite commandment? Would you like to concentrate just on that one, making a 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional representation of it? (a drawing or collage or making a scene out of play clay, etc?)

Obviously, we wouldn't want to present ALL of these options to the class, as that might be too overwhelming. But it's a list I hope will help you...and get you started thinking of your own ideas.

Speaking of other ideas, I'd LOVE to hear yours in the comments section if you want to share!
Love, Becky

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Story of the Exodus

Hi Godly Play Teachers,
Welcome to our lesson for Sept 13, The Exodus, found in Exodus 11:1-15:21. The Godly Play script is in the yellow (Fall) book, p. 65-72.

When we left Moses last week, he was getting ready to go with Aaron to speak to the Pharaoh and to do what God told him to do: set the people free. Would he have the courage? Would God help him? How would it all play out? This week we get to celebrate the answers to these questions.

I would suggest telling the story as the script describes, and then, when Moses enters the scene, recap last week's story before moving on, so that children can connect the two stories.

I'd also suggest that it would really be fun and meaningful for the children to celebrate the story with an exploration of the seder meal, if you like, as described below. If you're not up for that, I'll at least have matzo for each classroom for the children to try.

I've changed the wondering questions a little bit:
1. I wonder what part of the story you like the best.
2. I wonder what part is the most important.
3. I wonder if you were one of God's people, how you might have felt when the Pharaoh set you free to follow Moses.
4. I wonder what you might have felt as you saw the sea part and a path emerge.
5. I wonder what part of this part of this story is about you, or what God is teaching you about Himself in this story.

Create a Gift for God Time
1. Children could recreate the story scene of the crossing of the Red Sea. Let children decide how they want to recreate this. They could make the pieces of the story- like the chain, the felt water that can be parted, the people, etc.
There's an amazing example here. Take a look!
Here's another example.
I'll have blue paper and felt.

2. Children could work together to create a long chain, symbolizing the slavery the people of God had to be freed from. Here's a pic of last years chain from 2nd grade.

 Flickr photo courtesy of Imaginary Girl, through creative commons
3.This would be a perfect time for the children to celebrate the seder meal. We did this in VBS two summers ago and last year at Camp Prism and the children might remember enough to teach you about it! Just bring me a clean receipt and I'll be glad to reimburse you. The meal is so full of meaning, all centered around this story.
 Here's a guide with a simple explanation.
This allows our children to experience the Passover in a small way.

4. Children could make an instrument like Miriam might have used to celebrate the exodus. Look here for an example of a paper plate shaker. Let the children decorate it as they wish. I'll have paper plates and jingle bells, if you want to use them.

Thanks y'all, for helping our children not only hear the story of the Exodus, but participate in it as well!
Love, Becky